Zamirbek Makmutov, 32, an imam of the village of Irkagly (Neftekumsk district of the Stavropol region), has been found dead outside a mosque today. There were multiple gunshot wounds on the man’s body, Kavkazski Uzel news agency reports.

According to Kavkazski Uzel, Makmutov was on his way to the mosque for a morning prayer when he got killed.

“Zamirbek was a man of peace. This is a religiously-motivated murder; there can be no other motif for it. He was under constant pressure by police who kept seizing his PC and then returning it", Kavkazski Uzel reports a relative of the deceased as saying.

According to the Spiritual Administration of Stavropol Muslims, Muhammad-Haji Rahimov, Mufti of the Stavropol region, is currently on his way to the village of Kara-Tub where the imam got murdered.

“To us, Zamirbek was a deeply religious, God-fearing and magnanimous person. He did his best trying to revive Islam and help it take root in the area. Apart from being a religious activist, he was also an excellent teacher loved by the children. We are all deeply shocked by the tragedy. His passing away is an irreconcilable loss for all Muslims of the Stavropol region. Our hearts go out to the next of kin of Zamirbek Makmutov,” says a statement published on the website of the Spiritual Administration of Stavropol Muslims.

A graduate of the Russian Islamic University in the city of Kazan, Makmutov was an expert in the Quran.

He was a father to four children, with a fifth child currently on the way.

Zamirbek Makmutov campaigned for Muslim girls to wear hijabs (headscarves) at Stavropol schools. He also made regular appearances on the ‘Headscarves vs Hijabs’ TV show produced by the Open Studio and aired on Channel 5 of Saint-Petersburg. There have been no comments forthcoming from the Investigative Committee, nor the Interior Ministry Department in the Stavropol region